Disqus Hits Sites with Unwanted Advertising, Plans to Charge Large Publishers a Monthly Fee to Remove Ads

When Disqus announced it would be releasing new, subscription-based versions later this year, users didn’t expect to have the new advertising model injected into their sites without notice. Disqus CEO Daniel Ha said the company would release finalized pricing and provide more details well in advance of its planned March release, but users are reporting that the advertising has already been forced into their comments without warning.

“We are one of the lucky 5% who now has to pay if we don’t want really irrelevant and horribly spammy links just plopped on our site with zero warning,” BabyCenter Social Media Manager Dina Vernon Freeman said. “Unless our users (mainly millennial parents) should care about overpaying for dentures! We’re looking for other platforms ASAP.”

Brian O’Neill, who manages Slugger O’Toole, a site with more than 70,000 readers, was also hit with unwanted advertising on his site.

“Disqus has started to put ads into our comments section of our site without even telling us,” O’Neill said in a post explaining the new ads to the site’s readers. “As you can imagine I am extremely annoyed at this – I hate crappy online ads as much as you do. Supposedly we can remove the ads if we pay them $10 a month, but as yet there is no mechanism on their site to do this.” O’Neill said he is also exploring alternative commenting systems if he is unable to remove the advertising.

Disqus responded to user complaints with a post to clarify that advertising will remain optional for more than 95% of the sites on Disqus.

“Larger, commercial, sites that elect to use the free version of Disqus will be supported by configurable advertising and have the option to earn revenue through the Reveal program,” Disqus Marketing Manager Mario Paganini said. “For small, non-commercial sites, advertising will be optional. These sites will be able to use Disqus’ ads-optional subscription, free of charge.”

Publishers asked in the comments when the option to pay to remove ads will become available, as an option to pay isn’t currently in place.

“Larger sites will be able to run a paid subscription version of Disqus that includes the ability to remove ads along with additional features,” Paganini said. “We are aiming to have this available in the next couple of months. We will be making periodic updates on our blog and talking to publishers in the meantime.”

Disqus is moving to focus on its larger publishers but has already attracted angry criticism from publishers that were not properly informed of the changes. Over the years the company has experimented with different ways of monetizing the commenting platform, often frustrating users in the process of making important changes.

In 2014, Disqus began experimenting with advertising in the form of “Sponsored Comments” that users could not turn off without contacting support. This move drew criticism from WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg who essentially called out the ads as little more than comment spam. After a negative reaction from its community, Disqus quietly discontinued the Sponsored Comments and scrubbed the announcement post from the internet.

Disqus Delivers Low-Quality Ads

Disqus has struggled to land on an effective advertising model that will convince users to get on board. Its Reveal advertising program is notorious for serving low-quality ads and has inspired little confidence in users who have tried it. The following is one of the tamer examples:

“I think if you had somewhat decent advertising you might convince people that it’s worth it, but I had to yank it from one of my sites because it was all ‘Ron Paul wants you to buy gold!’ and ’22 times the photos showed too much!'” Paul King, an author who writes for multiple publications, commented on Disqus’ most recent advertising announcement. “Just put in a tier of non-spam advertising that’s actually relevant or charge based on comments or something.”

Twitter is filled with complaints from users who are dissatisfied with the questionable quality of Disqus’ advertising. Many are searching for alternatives.

This recent move to turn on advertising without publishers’ permission is another communication blunder in the same vein as the previous attempt at Sponsored Comments. Disqus has failed to find a communication strategy that respects users’ content while leading the company towards its goals at the same time. With spam-quality ads deploying network-wide, the company can certainly expect that some users will be willing to pay the $10/month to turn them off. Sadly, the experience of paying to turn off offensive ads feels more like getting mugged on your way to work than upgrading your service.

The Disqus Comment System plugin has been hovering around 200,000 active sites for the past two years and its ratings continue to plummet on WordPress.org. Unless Disqus is able to dramatically improve its advertising network before its official March release, we may see a mass exodus to other commenting systems.

83 Comments


  1. While I’m not happy about how this is being done, IMO, Disqus is still the only good comment system out there. (And, this news comes as I’m about to switch all my sites to Disqus… eekkk.)

    So, while I don’t like being forced into paying, I’ll pay for something as good of quality as Disqus is for comments. I just wish there were alternatives (hello, developers!).

    And, I agree, the ads are just awful! Unless they fix that, the only real options are to pay, or switch. The ads can’t be left on any respectable site. :(

    (And, if it really is $10/mo for bigger sites and still free to smaller sites, that’s a pretty darn good deal. I just wish the model were more fremium with ads *COMPLETELY* optional.)

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    1. After this I switched to the wpdiscuz plugin in conjuction with wordpress social login plugin.

      It’s working great for me and no ad’s. I was actually inspired by massivelyop dot com’s website. They switched to those same plugins from livefyre.

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      1. Thanks, Angel!

        I looked at that one, but it was a while ago, I guess… seems like it’s come a long way. That looks promising.

        How has your experience been with the subscribe / email notification / get-back-to-the-comment functionality? (That’s where most of them fall down in my experience.)

        I’m torn on the social login stuff, as IMO, it’s phishing-training**, but it’s so the norm now, that I’m fighting a losing battle, I’m afraid. :) (And, Disqus does it too.)

        Yes, Livefyre is probably my 2nd favorite to Disqus (as an end user), though it’s not nearly as good as Disqus in UX.

        (** What I mean by that, is if you’re already logged into the social media platform, then it just connects (typically). However, if you come to a site that uses social media login, and aren’t logged in, then you have a 3rd party site asking to enter social media login credentials. That’s a bit scary, as most don’t know how to determine legitimacy.)

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      2. wpdiscuz is really great. I hate the name, but it’s solid. One of my clients has a membership site with 80,000 readers and 10k active commenters, and the plugin seems to handle new reply notification emails just fine.

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  2. How could any competent site owner not see this coming? Freely giving up your data and that of your customers/visitors to a third party makes absolutely no sense, whether it be analytics, comments, or otherwise, especially when you can’t instantly switch to an alternative.

    This goes for Disqus, Yotpo, Jetpack, or any other third party service!

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    1. UX is a valid concern, though. To put it mildly, built-in WordPress comment system sucks. And, arguably, Disqus has one of the best comment-system UX there is. I just wish they’d product-ize it, rather than ad-driven. :(

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  3. One of the reasons I switched to WordPress years ago was that its native, built-in commenting system was decent, and Akismet offered an effective spam filter.

    I’m always surprised when people knock the native commenting system. It’s quite good: threaded comments are supported, you can auto-close comments after a certain number of days, there’s Gravatar support if you want that, and it’s possible to require users to be registered and logged in to comment. Not necessary to install Disqus at all.

    I learned that relying on an external service for commenting isn’t a good idea a long time ago. Used to have Blogger+Haloscan; Haloscan provided the comments. When Haloscan shut down, getting the comments exported and re-attached to posts on my blog was a bear of a project. Thanks to WordPress, my posts have had native commenting for years, and I’m in no danger of being at the mercy of the people running an external service.

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    1. Totally agree. Here in our site’s 12th year, our comments are a really important part of our content, and our archives, and I would never dream of outsourcing them … not to Disqus, not to Facebook, not to anyone. (And as a commenter on others’ sites, having comments cross-referenced between unrelated sites that use Disqus has always seemed to me like a bug, not a feature.) We also have never run non-local ads – not even Google AdSense – the added $ wouldn’t be worth it in any amount … and it’s long been cringeworthy to see this type of “ad” allowed by some large news sites.

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    2. IMO, the main problem (there are others) is that *as a user* if I leave a comment on a WordPress site – and actually want to interact, vs just dump a comment there – I have to make a note to myself to go back and check in on that article from time to time to see how the conversation is going.

      With Disqus, I can leave comments on many different sites, and get notified of interaction… and it’s just a click, and I’m right back into the discussion.

      I’ve tried various plugins and services related to WP native comments that add aspects of that functionality, but they are both frustrating to administer/implement, but worse, horrible experiences for the actual end users.

      From an end-user perspective, Disqus works, and works well. That’s my #1 concern.

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      1. From an end-user perspective, Disqus sucks, and has been sucking for quite some time.

        Just being forced to register at some windy site that abuses the given data outright (happened ALWAYS, ALWAYS with Disqus) reduces my want to comment a lot. Instant spam after registering an account with them .. hell yeah. One could go even so far and call this indirect censorship, as you wouldn’t want to use this specific comment system.

        cu, w0lf.

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      2. Most comment systems force you to register, or at least enter an email address. Disqus has a mode that allows comments w/o registration, btw.

        And, I’ve been using it w/ 3 accounts for years now, and can’t recall ever getting spam after registering on any of them.

        Yes, the downside is that you do have to register (once) to use it effectively. But, you’re not having to register at each individual site, nor having to possibly give away the keys to your social media accounts. It’s a separate, centralized system dedicated to commenting, that isn’t tied to other crucial systems (from a security perspective).

        WordPress has this, as well, with WordPress . com, Jetpack, or possibly 3rd party plugins, but they don’t give the same user-experience. For example, the system WP Tavern is using does notify me of follow-up, but the emails I get are a mess and confusing… I’m best off just coming back to this post and looking through it (which is OK if there aren’t 1000 comments). Disqus emails are very clear, and take me right back to the comment I need to respond to.

        I’m all with you on user-data and advertising. I’d rather have some service I could just pay, or a plugin to buy, and do it myself. That doesn’t exist yet in a form I’m happy to use, or make people commenting use. And… I’d guess that most of us here have Facebook, Twitter, etc. accounts, and if so, you’re in the same boat.

        I need to find out more what is going on in this case, but at least it looks like eventually we’ll have the option to pay and opt-out (I’m not seeing ads on my sites yet, though). Seems like they did it a bit backwards, but ads & pay opt-out is kind of the best of both worlds, once available.

        I’m happy to switch to something WordPress centric, of someone steps up to the plate and creates it. I’ll even be happy to pay. (That WordPress is how many years old now, and still doesn’t have what many would think core functionality for a blog, is a whole other discussion.)

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      3. I’d say the system WP Tavern uses (Postmatic) is one of the best for managing comment filtering.

        For example, this comment by you was one of 18 in the thread update. The comments that had been published prior to this email notification were grayed out, while the new ones were in normal font.

        That allows me to only read the new comments, instead of having to go through them all. Additionally, because each comment has a little “Reply”
        link next to it, I can immediately reply to the one I want to, all from my inbox.

        For me, that’s about as elegant a solution as I’ve seen, and sure beats having to jump back over to a blog post where the link may or may not take you to the comment you want to reply to.

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      4. Hey Danny, I’m not sure if this is the correct way to reply to you, as there’s no ‘reply’ button (maybe too many tiers down?), but anyway… I see what you’re saying about the grey text vs black text. That sort of makes sense, but does it differentiate between direct replies and other replies to the overall article? (On first glance, it seems like a huge long email mess of text.)

        Also, when I hit ‘reply’ it brings up an email response, and doesn’t take me back to this thread. I have to find a link within the email that gets me back into this post, and then find what I’m replying to. Again, that’s OK if there are a dozen comments, but not if it’s hundreds.

        Getting back with Disqus usually works pretty well, so long as the blog hasn’t hidden the comments (and even then, often works if you ‘show’ the comments within a reasonable time after arriving from a reply-click-load).

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      5. Hi Steve,

        It depends on how the blogger/publication has comment threading set up.
        Postmatic is just the conduit to deliver engagement, and simply adheres to the admin settings. So, if a blog limits threading to five tiers, the comment from a Postmatic email will drop in the same place as a web comment would. The difference being, at least you can reply direct to author from the email, as opposed to having no option to do so on a throttled web comment thread. :)

        The grey text is old comments, the black new. Based on how Postmatic is set up, and what features are enabled, a commenter will get a direct reply immediately, and the daily digest (like the one I’m reading now) will share others that may refer to your comment, but not be a direct reply.

        Additionally, Postmatic looks at the quality and relevance of the comment, and only sends “good ones” directly. So, technically, your comment would be sent to me immediately , but an “I agree!” comment wouldn’t be sent until the daily digest goes out.

        This kind of approach has made a huge difference to the way I interact with not only my own readers, but those of other Postmatic-powered sites.

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      6. Thanks for this detailed explanation of how Postmatic works. I really like that idea of holding comments based on quality. As Postmatic is working on native comments, there’s no reason Postmatic shouldn’t be compatible with our TC.

        With Postmatic one is dependent on a third party service but there’s not a lot of lock-in. We’ll do some testing to make sure TC is fully compatible. In particular, we’ll test with Replyable as comments by email is legitimately a service and the pricing is completely reasonable. If it works, that’s the beauty of all developers building respectfully around native comments rather than using alternative tables or taking over comment functionality completely.

        Comments Plus with Thoughtful Comments gives you image posting in comments plus comment notifications (using [WP Better Emails](https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-better-emails/) for beautification which you should be using anyway for even your admin notifications so it’s not extra work to set up). That still isn’t reply by email, which is truly an awesome feature.

        Again Danny, thanks for walking us all through the reply by email process from a publisher’s perspective.

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      7. Hey there Alec, thank you, and glad it was useful. :)

        You’ve definitely piqued my interest on Thoughtful Comments with your “thoughtful comments” on this post (sorry, poor pun, I’ll go sit in the bad pun corner!).

        I’m especially interested in the rich media support – is it currently just images, or could it also support videos and Giphy, for example?

        I use Postmatic’s Epoch solution as well (the comment “skin” plugin) and that offers some cool front-end moderation features for admins. I’m wondering if TC could be used in conjunction to offer rich media support from the comment box itself. Or, ideally, from an email reply.

        Will definitely check TC out, and I agree, this is one of the reasons I live WordPress – devs that truly care about improving the experience across the board.

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  4. From my relatively short work with ads, disqus just don’t have enough knowledge about users to be a target for quality advertisers. All they can do is serve “junk” ads.

    But the more interesting question here is why 200k wordpress sites prefer disqus over native comments.

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  5. Thanks for the heads up about the Disqus issues, Sarah. Inexpensive premium options without ads would be far preferable to unwanted ads.

    There’s no need to move your comments out to a third party service if you are using WordPress. Jeff wrote about our Thoughtful Comments plugin back in 2015. We’ve only improved it since then with:

    1. additional deep comment caching (two hundred comments will load as quickly as twenty comments on a website without Thoughtful Comments)
    2. pretty icons
    3. upvoting and downvoting

    Here’s how Thoughtful Comments looks out of the box for a non-logged in user.

    Here’s how Thoughtful Comments looks for the admin user now (there’s still some work to be done on default line spacing I see).

    Grab Thoughtful Comments for free on the WordPress repository. Thoughtful Comments is not a premium or freemium plugin. It’s 100% free. In fact, we’d really like to see a lot of our comment optimisation and front end moderation interface go into core so WordPress users would not have to resort to using something like Disqus or Jetpack for better comment performance and moderation.

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    1. Hi Alec, is that what is running here at WP Tavern? (Oh, sorry, I see it’s Postmatic… I’ll have a look at your system too.) If so, I’ll admit that this is one of the better implementations of native WP comments, but IMO, still falls far short of Disqus from a UX perspective. It’s not all about the look, either.

      And, absolutely, inexpensive premium is far better than ad-supported!

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    2. Took a look… and, I think this is part of the problem:
      “We’ve always found the comment moderation/management a bit weak (no wonder so many people are using the Disqus crutch).”

      While that might make admin quite a bit nicer, the biggest issue with native comments is the end user-experience. I didn’t switch to Disqus to make admin easier.

      When looking for a comment system, I noted my own experience, as someone leaving comments at sites all over the web, and one system stood out FAR above the rest. Disqus.

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      1. Thanks for taking a look at Thoughtful Comments, Steve.

        Thoughtful Comments was conceived to give WordPress publishers a Disqus alternative. Our original focus was on better moderation tools, that’s true. For me it’s much better moderating on the front end, especially on busy contentious topics, where you see comments in context.

        The current Thoughtful Comments does include much of the user experience of Disqus with upvoting and downvoting and reporting.

        What is really great about Thoughtful Comments though is that 100% compatibility with WordPress native comments. You can install and remove Thoughtful Comments with absolutely no change to your core comments database. There is no migration in or out. Just improved functionality when it’s enabled.

        Disqus migration (we’ve done a lot of them) is a nightmare.

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      2. Fair points, and I’m certainly not opposed to front-end moderation. However, as I noted in some of my other responses, the weakest aspect of WordPress native comments are in the notification and follow-up area.

        I certainly appreciate keeping the comments native. I haven’t tried to move one yet, but I can imagine. And, if staying native, I like the idea of a fall-back where functionality just disappears, but the comments are intact.

        Also, I do appreciate the work WP devs are doing to try and improve the native comments. Why that didn’t happen a decade ago, leaves me wondering…. especially in regards to core. (I get the concept of core being minimal, and then extending… but comments seem pretty ‘core’ to WordPress and blogging.)

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  6. I am so totally surprised.

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  7. Glad that I’m not using Disqus on my new site and removed it from older ones a while ago.
    It’s just a way to make some money for Disqus after providing it for free for a long time.
    Native WP comment system/Jetpack comments work as they should, anyway.

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  8. I guess I’ve always expected a move like this one. You can’t run on funding forever, at some point you have to make money. If you can’t sell your users, you have to sell them something.

    When it comes to WordPress I too don’t understand why everyone suddenly decided to move away from WordPress commenting system to Disqus, and at one point, even Facebook. The beauty of WordPress is that you own your content.

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    1. UX

      The WordPress built-in comment system is kind of like a 0.8 beta version to get the project going (it was a blog after all), and then it got forgotten about.

      A few have tried to create plugins to add various functionality… and if you get the right combo, it’s *usable* but far short of elegant.

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      1. Steve, as I pointed out above, for seven years we’ve maintained and supported Thoughtful Comments which handles everything except email notifications (try Comments Plus for that) all within the native comment format.

        We’ve proposed Thoughtful Comments as a feature plugin to improve core comments and (been completely ignored by core, core is an insiders’ insiders club). From my perspective, there is a total lack of will insider WordPress core to improve many important features while getting lost on emojis and oembed.

        Core functionality which urgently requires upgrading:

        * security (WordPress should be easily secured out of the box without requiring additional plugins)
        * performance (this partially means caching: the core caching framework should be built-in with additional caching functionality built into plugins
        * comments (I agree with you the current state of commenting performance and functionality is lamentable: enough so to dedicate years of my life to upgrading that functionality ourselves)

        Your demand that a solution needs to be perfect before it’s viable really takes the wind out of development sails.

        * Postmatic is great if you want to replace a third party service with another third party service.
        * wpDisquz (we donated a couple of hundred dollars to them at one point) is great if you can handle the performance hit and a very complex interface.
        * Thoughtful Comments is great if you just want better comment moderation and performance using native comments.

        Many solid solutions are already out there.

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      2. Hi Alec,

        I certainly appreciate your (and everyone’s) efforts in trying to make WP better and fill in some of the holes. I think you nailed it regarding core.

        That said, I’m not sure I require a perfect option/experience, but I have a standard in terms of UX/UI I’m trying to achieve, or would like for site users.

        wpDisquz looks the closest so far, but as you point out above, there might be some downsides as well. (I doubt performance would be a big issue, as I’m on a really good host… but there’s still getting email notifications out reliably, likely dealing with spam, etc.)

        Again, I’m not opposed to better comment moderation, but for me, that hasn’t been the primary complaint with native comments.

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  9. Disqus-ting! (Sorry!) The problem with these platforms is that when they’re free you are not the customer, you are the product. Your blog is the fertile host for the advertising revenue. To not even share that revenue seems especially heinous.

    I had considered moving my site to Disqus comments, but I won’t be now. I appreciate that they have to keep the lights on but too much of the internet is already blighted by this rubbish.

    Moreover, it’s sad to see the community nature of comments undermined in this fashion. The best way to beat out junk articles, content scrapes and fake news is to build strong communities around independent voices. I imagine many bloggers who use Disqus saw the service as doing just that. At a time when strong online communities are needed more than ever, to essentially spam them for profit is a massive betrayal.

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  10. I get that online services need revenue. I might have even considered paying for Disqus had they been upfront about their plans.

    I should’t learn about creepy fake-news ads on my sites by seeing them suddenly appear with no warning.

    *That* is why I removed Disqus from my sites, and now block it on any Web page I visit. Disqus has shown contempt for their users. They cannot be trusted. Why do business with a dishonorable company?

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    1. Yes, that’s my main gripe with them. I’d rather it just be a subscription service from the get-go. Maybe some kind of graduated fee from free on up, based on # of comments, traffic, etc. I’d happily pay for a quality comment system. I’ve just seen no other options.

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    2. Just wanted to follow up that I’ve had a bit of interaction with Disqus support. IMO, the plan they are proposing looks pretty reasonable. i.e.:

      Only higher traffic, commercial sites are subject to the ads.
      For those that are subject to ads (to remove):
      less than 50k pageviews is $10/mo
      less than 250k is $99/mo
      more than 250k will be contacted re: pricing

      So, kind of like using a host like WP Engine, if you’re commercial and getting those levels of traffic, you *should* be able to monetize enough to cover costs, I’d think.

      Also, they insist they notified the sites that got ads, prior to that talking place. It does seem a bit of a cart before the horse to roll it out before pricing was firmed up and launched, but it doesn’t sound like, one day, it was just *surprise* ads, either (unless Disqus is lying).

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      1. Hi Steve,

        We take care of many publishers with between 50K and 250K/month in page views and I can tell you they certainly wouldn’t be happy to pay $99/month for slow javascript comments (Disqus). I don’t think most of them would want add additional “monetization” to cover Disqus costs when they could have first rate comments on WordPress with either Thoughtful Comments + replyable ($3/month) or TC + Comments Plus ($10/one time) or wpDisquz + something (not sure of their compatibility). I’ve just had a look at the wpDisquz store. Each add-on (and there’s about twenty) is between $25 and $95. I find the interface pretty busy. We should promote TC more actively. We have a high performance Disqus equivalent comments plugin for WordPress for free and we only have 500+ sites using it. That’s the problem with free – there’s no economic incentive for us to promote Thoughtful Comments. We just want comments on WordPress to be better. We’d love to contribute the caching and improved moderation tools to WordPress core.

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      2. I certainly get not wanting to pay that much! I’m just saying commercial enterprises with that much traffic likely could. It does sound high to me, but I’m not to that scale yet… $10/mo is certainly doable though. (I would have priced it more like $10, $49, $99 250k-500k, etc. but that’s me.)

        re: existing native solutions

        Maybe I need to see an example. Is there a site with the combos you mention running that you feel is comparable to Disqus? I haven’t run across one yet.

        As I said in another post, I appreciate the efforts to try and match Disqus. I’d rather use a native system. But, I’ve yet to be convinced on the end-user UX, let alone from an admin perspective. I don’t find Disqus’ strength to be on the admin side, apart from off-loading spam control.

        Note, I’m mostly speaking as someone who’s been commenting on forums before the Internet and on sites all over the Internet ever since. From that vantage point, a few of the boards like phpBB (forums) and Disqus (comments) are best in class. From a site owner/admin vantage, that might not be the case.

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  11. As for me and my sites, i am sticking to WP native comments. Thank God i ditched Discuss loooog ago.

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  12. I tried Disqus a while ago and never liked it.

    I am sure you can add a plugin to the WP Native Comments if you want your users to “follow” the conversation.

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    1. Yes, there are a few such plugins. But, that highlights a great point… what’s the point of commenting if you can’t easily follow the conversation?

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  13. Thats the reason I am not using Disqus on my blog. There comment system is not so user friendly. Better stick with default WordPress comment system.

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    1. Wow, this comment kind of blows me away…. so I’m really curious how you see WP native comments more user friendly.

      I’m with everyone here in terms of disappointment over the ads, user-data, and how Disqus seems to be going about this. But, in terms of functionality, I’m not seeing how anyone would prefer native over Disqus… either admin, or end-user.

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  14. So… while we sleep they inject poor ads on our websites. I used Disqus for a large period of time, now the problem is migrate Disqus comments to native WordPress system.

    When something works good, always someone have to ruin it, congrats Daniel Ha.

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    1. I haven’t tried it out yet, but in theory, you’re supposed to be able to sync the comments via the plugin (or there are manual methods too). So, they either already live in both places (if sync’d) or, they can be exported/imported.

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  15. I saw this coming.
    it’s actually not only Disqus. Any fancy comment system you think is free & awesome, expect anything.
    ‘awesome’ isn’t always the best option. think ahead.
    yea wordpress comment system may not be all but, least your user content is within boundary.

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  16. Just stick with the good old WordPress comment system, facebook comment plugin is the worst, disqus is better but i think most readers are too lazy to sign in or sign up.

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  17. I never liked Disqus in the first place, and managed to stay away from it, sticking rather with the native commenting system, albeit not ‘as good’. Just as well because I wouldn’t put up with what they’re doing now. Recently though I have started using wpDiscuz which extends WordPress’ native comments :) and its worked like a charm so far.

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  18. That’s what happens when you give up your data and leave the door open to a third party which don’t have a solid business model.

    If you are using WordPress, just stick with the built-in commenting system. It’s way more faster, customizable and reliable than Disqus.

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  19. That’s odd. I got several emails from Disqus ahead of them turning on advertising, giving plenty of notice about what was going to happen and how to opt out.

    I let them know that I’d take up their $10/month opt-out, and they confirmed no ads would appear on my site and that they’d be in touch to sort out the billing in due course.

    So, all very upfront and transparent, and a straightforward choice: you can have ads or pay $10 a month.

    I’m pleased they’ve done this, as I prefer to pay for services I use. Businesses tend to stick around longer and serve customers better when there’s money involved. We can’t all ride for free forever.

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    1. I think this is the main point of contention… if they just turned ads on, that would be a good reason to get upset (as was alleged by this article). But, that doesn’t seem to be the universal experience.

      I’ve seen no ads, or email wanting $10, so I guess my traffic is too low? I will say the info isn’t very straight-forward on their site.

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  20. It’s a right time to switch to decomments :)

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  21. the atrocious part is disqus pulled the ads in without any informing or so. Charging 10/mth to substain or watever is fair and understandable but the rude ads intrusion left a bitter taste.

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  22. Ads in the comments? Hmmm, very strange. I will stay with the built-in WP comment system.

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      1. I’ve spoken to Automatticians who confirmed that there’s at least 100K sites still running it. That’s why it hasn’t been completely shut down yet.

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  23. Just one more reason not to use Discus.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve aborted making a comment on a site because they didn’t have the “Guest” option turned on. Discus is a real engagement killer.

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  24. One of the many reasons I dumped Disqus a while back. For a comment system that’s been out so long, the mobile experience is terrible – if I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen their little spinning wheel as Disqus (yet again) fails to load on mobile.

    That, and the concerns re. privacy and data collection, and native WordPress has been my go-to for a few years now. Add in Postmatic, which I’ve been using over a year now, and it’s pretty much the only comment option needed (at least for me).

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  25. I used to be a regular commenter through Disqus, largely through news article websites like RawStory. Used to be… when the moderators started allowing trolls to get out of hand, and punishing the members who reported them, I had to walk away.

    The thing you may want to keep in mind, should you decide to use (or continue) to use the Disqus plugin, is that search engines have started using a few new factors.

    First, as mentioned by YouTube channel owners, is that your website is ranked on the “negative versus positive” ratio in your overall content. This may not sound like a bad thing, except it also takes into consideration what your website’s crosslinked with. So even if your website is kittens and sunshine, having things like Quora, Facebook, Twitter, or Disqus could negatively impact your SEO scores.

    Second, Google has been penalizing websites that use pop-ups, scroll-downs, and full-page ads that are difficult to close without opening TrafficJunky-like adware. They’re also cracking down on spam ads, knocking down SEO scores even further for blogs and websites alike.

    I’m not saying Disqus is going to kill your business, but I’d recommend at least considering if it’s worth the trouble.

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    1. Yes, I don’t think I’d have any ads, and especially theirs.

      One thing I do see often confused about Disqus though, is moderation. Disqus isn’t doing the moderation, aside from their own discussion groups. If you left comments at a site running Disqus, it’s that site’s mods who were allowing trolls or punishing members.
      (The Disqus forums are full of people complaining that they posted a comment on XYZ site, and it got removed, screaming at the Disqus support people. I’m not sure if that’s what you meant, but just FYI.)

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  26. Disqus is a disease that I never bought into.

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  27. I write a small food blog on vegan and gluten free recipes. We used Disqus for years but were really fed up with all the spam!!!
    just recently switched to heyoya (they do both voice and text comments) and anyway its great option if you are sick of advertising. its a simple to use widget and the design looks good. most importantly my readers are leaving lots more comments which is great!

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  28. I’ve been commenting through Disqus for quite some time and, lately, didn’t like the way it began to change.
    Also, as a blogger I was searching for alternative because I want to be in control of my comments, the blog content and everything that Disqus is trying to change. And I think I found it – and don’t get this as an ad, because it isn’t and feel free to erase the comment, but take a go on GraphComment, because it helps you to stay in control of everything + you’re rebuilding your own community in-house and there isn’t any of that stuff Disqus does. And if you found some other options, I would like to know and get informed, always in lookout for healthy alternatives, didn’t know about heyoya :)

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    1. Hi Alice, the combo WP Tavern uses here (Postmatic and Epoch, but from the same developer) offer a nice, clean and privacy concern-free option. I used to use Disqus, then Livefyre, then wpDiscuz, and have been more than happy since moving to Postmatic. :)

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  29. Hi Danny,

    I’ve looked into this in more detail. Postmatic’s Replyable is a very good fit with Thoughtful Comments. Epoch is a comprehensive all-in-one solution which doesn’t play as well with others. It’s also about 10x more expensive than Replyable so free Thoughtful Comments plus paid Replyable would be a very affordable and powerful Disqus/Epoch alternative. Whether Comments Plus (which is comment notifications) or Replyable (which is comment reply via email) suite your site better is a decision up to the individual publisher.

    Posting video to comments is a real challenge. Video cannot be uploaded to your server (at least not without a lot of extra costs). The easiest way to handle video would be to allow people to post either Vimeo or YouTube links into the posts. We publish a video player FV Player and we’ll definitely add that functionality in the near future. I think managing video links and players is better suited to a video plugin than a comments plugin. With Giphy, it’s a matter of posting images into a post. In most cases that should work (if the publisher hasn’t excluded the image tag).

    For our own site, we’d like to go with Markdown comments with a little javascript toolbar at the top for adding an image or formatting. We just haven’t had time to find the right Markdown for comments plugin. If you have any ideas, let me know.

    Markdown is extremely awesome and more so for comments. I’d like Markdown comments to be out of the box for WordPress. Loading any kind of WYSWIYG code for simple posts like comments just seems wrong to me. Expecting people to write HTML in comment boxes also seems to be asking a lot.

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    1. It’s interesting with reply to email Danny that I’ve ended up with a new comment lower down rather than the reply I wanted to send to you. This is one reason why I kind of like notifications without email reply. There’s also no editing with reply by email.

      I meant to include Replyable’s pricing in the post above. Very fair and affordable even for a small site. Again on the reply via email, I don’t know if links make it through or what formatting would make it through Replyable’s email parser.

      PS. WP Tavern’s javascript buttons above are very helpful (I almost included a Markdown link instead of an html one) but don’t include lists, which I think are very important for structured discussion. Hence my preference for a Markdown solution for comments. Markdown (or Textile in its day) is the only way to handle lists efficiently in plain text and comments.

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      1. I’m wondering if that’s due to Postmatic just being the conduit, replicating the native comment experience? So if the web page version opened a new line of commenting (even though it’s for the same original comment) because of limitations on how deep the thread goes, then Postmatic does the same?

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      2. Okay this time, I’ve hit the reply button directly from a single post notification and not a digest notification. Let’s see where it ends up. Due to Postmatic’s filtering this short reply should **not** get sent out to everyone on the whole thread.

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      3. Hey Alec,

        Right – Tavern has their comments set to a max of 4 threads deep (i forget which) so neither via email, nor the web, would you be able to reply a level 4 comment with a level 5. WordPress would be design make your reply another level 4.

        Sorry I wasn’t able to chime in on this discussion – It’s been a nutty few weeks. Thanks for having it, though.

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      4. Hi Jason,

        It seems to me the desirable behaviour (what we do with TC) is to make replies above the threading level go to the previous available level. I.e. a theoretical level four reply to a weblog limited to three levels would go back to level three, as the most recent comment at that level.

        Sending replies which are over the thread level back to zero which seems to me what happened is undesirable. Again I may have replied to a digest and hence got knocked down (even though Danny’s comment was highlighted). A suggestion: include prominent reply buttons within the email which thread correctly. While I’m at it, working undo in the comment editor would be great (though challenging in javascript).

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      5. That’s my experience too, I’d never use/trust reply by email systems. (I suppose that’s a nice feature to have for those that want it? if it works properly.)

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      6. Hi Steve, been using email-to-comments for over a year now with Postmatic.
        and it’s helped raise engagement by170% while also passively selling $2k worth of ebooks. So, very much works. :)

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      7. Maybe it’s just me then. I like notification by email, but not interaction via email. Same with forums, customer support, etc.

        I guess it’s nice to have it as an option, but it shouldn’t be the focus, IMO.

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    2. Hi Alec, thanks for such a detailed reply, I always appreciate that kind of information, and for making it clear for an “armchair coder” like me: I can get by on the basic CSS, but the rest? Beyond my pay grade. :)

      So would it be possible to use rich media (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) in comments just by dropping a link to the video in, much like WordPress does it internally for posts?

      If so, this would be ideal, as then I guess the same rules could also apply with Twitter URLs, blog post URLs, etc? I do like how WordPress handles this in-post (especially blog post links, with the excerpt included, although I do wish they’d open in a new window).

      I saw two markdown plug-ins on the repository. There’s the one in use here on WP Tavern (though I can’t recall the name of it), then I saw one that had more formatting options, but looked a little top-heavy on front-end.

      I like the way Medium handles “markdown” (though I guess technically it isn’t markdown in its purest form) with its front-end editor, and highlighting the copy allows you more formatting options. But then commenters would need to know that option was available.

      I guess it comes down to that fine line between aesthetics and functionality. Which is why I could never be a dev. :)

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      1. Hey Danny, wanted to let you know that oEmbed support in comments is an idea I shared in 2016 https://wptavern.com/wordpress-feature-idea-add-oembed-support-to-comments and as a result of that post, someone suggested this plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/oembed-in-comments/ that adds oEmbed support to comments. Perhaps you might want to check it out. As for Markdown, we have the Markdown module enabled in Jetpack https://jetpack.com/support/markdown/

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      2. Hey there Jeff, cheers for that, I’ll look into it – are you using it currently? If not, what did you think of it when running? Cheers.

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      3. We’re not currently using it on the Tavern oddly enough. I should probably install it considering I suggested it be added to core :)

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      4. Just checked it out – seems it hasn’t been updated in two years, so not sure if functionality would still be there. Hmm…

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      5. Hi Jeff,

        Unfortunately Jetpack is not an option for us. We don’t believe in heavily bundled plugins. For Markdown I’m looking at a couple of interesting alternatives now.

        1. [PrettyPress](https://wordpress.org/plugins-wp/prettypress/) includes a battle-tested WordPress implementation of tomarkdown.js ([Github](https://github.com/evasivesoftware/PrettyPress)).
        2. [Typewriter](https://wordpress.org/plugins/typewriter/) stores text as Markdown and converts on the fly ([Github](https://github.com/Codeinwp/typewriter))

        Allowing oEmbed in comments is an interesting idea. That would certainly help with YouTube although I’m not sure whether the YouTube oEmbed is a good citizen or not (too much branding, too many external links is not polite). Our FV Player version (which apparently already exists in the pro version, I’m thinking of moving YouTube comment support over to the free version) is very discreet. Your visitors might not even notice that the video came from YouTube.

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